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Climate Model Coverage: Far from Model Journalism

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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November 2012 temperatures relative to average across the globe

November 2012 temperatures relative to average across the globe

With a less-than-stellar end to the Qatar climate talks, and with all eyes on the US for more ambitious commitments ahead of the next round, it is more important than ever for the American public to be better educated on the dire implications of a rapidly warming world.

Despite a recent shift toward greater belief in anthropogenic climate change, perception of its risks remains low among the US public.

A study published in the September issue of Nature Climate Change may help explain why. After analyzing climate coverage in major newspapers, and radio and television shows, the authors find a disproportionately large focus on op-ed and editorial topics in favor of actual explanations of science. The article concludes that the media not only provides insufficient scientific coverage, but also significantly undermines the reliability of climate models (in all news sources analyzed, almost two times the coverage of climate models was negative vs. positive).

Rather than merely focus on their imprecise nature, the media should take some time to elaborate on the complexity of computer models and shed light on why they are imprecise, describing what we know along with what we don’t know.

Reporting should emphasize that simulating the forces that drive climate, such as, ocean circulation and heat exchanges between land, air and sea, and their interactions with living ecosystems requires very sophisticated mathematical analysis. Systems of differential equations based on the laws of physics, fluid movement, and atmospheric chemistry take data from satellite observations, ocean buoys and other environmental monitoring equipment, which are then solved on supercomputers.

More importantly, these models entail dividing the Earth’s atmosphere into hundreds of thousands of grid points and predicting values for various physical factors, such as temperature, heat transfer, moisture content, and radiation at each grid point. The temperature at a given grid point is predicted five to 20 minutes at a time, until a projection far in the future, say the year 2100, is reached. Because of the short time-step of just a few minutes (which enables greater accuracy), even a one-year simulation would need to process this calculation tens of thousands of times; according to the World Meteorological Organization, for just one year, this would require processing 27,000 times for each of the 2.5 million grid points on Earth.

Climate models are by no means precise. Given their complexity, assumptions and simplifications have to be made to allow even supercomputers to generate projections in a reasonable amount of time. Nonetheless, they are rigorously mathematically tested, and data from past years have reliably been able to recreate the Ice Age and volcanic eruptions from past decades.

If the general public is given an intricate look at the processes that drive climate and the methods used to predict it, anyone with the ability to recall even a basic problem from middle school physics should begin to comprehend the sheer complexity of these projections. This will, perhaps, dispel the notion of climate scientists sitting in their labs and spewing conspiracy theories about a rapidly warming world.

In the aftermath of a political campaign where Republican candidates made a mockery of science, outrightly denying evolution, stem cell research, and human-induced climate change, it is even more important for the media to step up and defend science instead continuing to insist that there are two sides to this issue.

The fact that the Nature study found that The Rush Limbaugh Show provided the most “explanation” of climate models among major news publications and programs should be disconcerting enough. More than a third of articles and shows explaining models were also seen to be in political commentary outlets.

Previous studies have called for greater transparency on the part of computer modelers in order to increase public trust in modeling. A paper that argues this in the Communications of the ACM aptly quotes the “reasonable person doctrine”: “information givers should provide enough information to takers for reasonable people to make decisions.”

Any less information is unacceptable, the authors state, since it does not give users the ability to make informed decisions, and instead forces them to place blind faith in the “black box” that is computer modeling. The general public are users of information with regard to global warming, no doubt, because they make decisions everyday on energy consumption and carbon footprints: reusable vs. paper vs. plastic bags, energy-efficient vs. regular bulbs, cars vs. public transportation, and so on and so forth.

While all scientific issues suffer from perfunctory reporting due to lack of time, resources and expertise of journalists, climate change particularly lends itself well to the “two sides to every issue” narrative, since so much of the research is still preliminary. And when the media encounters an event whose conclusion is unknown, it plays a guessing game, trying to predict a possible conclusion and argue for or against it, often based on little factual evidence (think presidential elections).

While this kind of coverage is corrosive anywhere, it’s even more so in the case of scientific stories, where it is important to report on the uncertainty itself rather than using it as a launching pad for pet theories.

Another reason the media gets it wrong is its endless thirst for the sensational, the controversial and the dramatic. Which is why controversies like Climate Gate or Rick Perry’s belief that global warming is a hoax make it to the front pages time and again.

Want dramatic?

Consider this reporting from Bloomberg Businessweek, accompanied by this very explicit cover page in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, which took nearly 200 lives and left millions without power on the East Coast:

“Sandy featured a scary extra twist implicating climate change. An Atlantic hurricane moving up the East Coast crashed into cold air dipping south from Canada. The collision supercharged the storm’s energy level and extended its geographical reach. Pushing that cold air south was an atmospheric pattern, known as a blocking high, above the Arctic Ocean. Climate scientists Charles Greene and Bruce Monger of Cornell University, writing earlier this year in Oceanography, provided evidence that Arctic icemelts linked to global warming contribute to the very atmospheric pattern that sent the frigid burst down across Canada and the eastern U.S.”

Since long-form journalism with context and background is now passé in mainstream media, the media should at least take advantage of high-priority events like Sandy to shed light on the big picture. Unfortunately, these types of stories are exceedingly rare, but this is one way to educate audiences on the fact that computer models draw on the same logic that lies behind weather models, which most people rely on for their daily activities, and which are—unreliable-weatherman jokes aside—very close to accurate on a day-to-day basis.

Reporters could also make use of immersive multimedia technology to explain how models work, says Larry Pryor. Video games that allow people to “play” with real simulations can give them firsthand experience in working with computer models.

Games could be specifically designed to allow users to see causes and effects, and to analyze the impact of various factors that affect global warming. The video game, SimCity, has a new version with an additional climate change component to be released next year.

Citizen science and crowdsourcing projects to model and predict climate change can also be great ways to enable the public to not only acquire information, but to also take part in the research. Old Weather, for example, is a crowdsourced effort aimed at gathering meteorological data from naval logs of US ships from as far back as the mid-19th century, which can be used in climate models.

Initiatives like the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication are also great approaches to get citizens interested and involved in the climate debate. By tracking public awareness of climate change, including American attitudes, risk perceptions, and views on policies, the project tests new and effective ways to involve the public in climate science research.

Recent efforts to push for the teaching of climate science in schools, where children could learn the nuances, complexities and multidisciplinary aspects of climate research would make the job of the media easier, even while preparing the next generation of scientists and engineers who will likely address these challenges head on.

Meanwhile, the media should do its job. It’s the people’s right to know. If there were an impending terrorist attack or dangerous epidemic that could affect millions of people, surely the media would use every channel to communicate that to the public? What about global warming—a phenomenon that may cause entire coastlines to go under water and whole countries to disappear—doesn’t warrant communication?

Image: NOAA

Karthika Muthukumaraswamy About the Author: Karthika Muthukumaraswamy is a science and technology writer and blogger based in Philadelphia. She writes on various aspects of math, science, new media, journalism and technology. She handles communications and public relations for the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics and is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post. Follow on Twitter @KarthikaM.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.






Comments 34 Comments

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  1. 1. Carlyle 11:07 pm 12/27/2012

    If the public could be confident that journalists were honestly & critically analysing the media releases they are fed, the reputations of credible researchers would be enhanced & those who do not deserve either credit or funding would fall by the wayside. Instead anything prefixed by ‘worse than expected’ or ‘due to climate change’ is uncritically printed. Take the latest gem in this sorry saga: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=west-antarctica-warming-fast-may-qu&posted=1#comments
    Helped by computer simulations, the scientists reconstructed a record of temperatures stretching back to 1958 at Byrd, where about a third of the measurements were missing, sometimes because of power failures in the long Antarctic winters.
    Of course they found warming where the missing data was.

    I commented: So they filled in the missing data, mostly from the polar night & discovered warming. Absolutely brilliant. I do not know how they do it. As this AGW movement has frequently previously shown, you can not trust real data, it might give the wrong impression.
    Even the most incompetent climate journalist should have been caustic about this report. Instead it was printed verbatim & picked up aroud the world.
    What do you have to say about that? If you or climate scientists want public respect, you need to earn it.

    Link to this
  2. 2. multilis 1:45 am 12/28/2012

    No mention of how climate models/studies tend to highlight the bad while going out of way to avoid mentioning good?

    For example australia is very dry. You hear all about droughts in australia due to climate change. You don’t hear about how average rainfall for country has gone up over last 100 years. Easy to see that trend by going to official government website and looking at plot of rainfall per year over last 100 years for entire country. (Same is true of canada, etc)

    Similarly, this writer talks about areas that might be underwater. No mention of vast areas of current permafrost that could become temperate, with nearly 6 month growing season, and sunlight most of day.

    Google PETM, then google Azolla event, both warmer than today, both more CO2 then today. Was rapid warming or rapid cooling the disaster for sea life, modern type mammals, etc?

    Boy who cries wolf may distract from real disaster. In 50 years, how many will be able to make nuclear weapons, dirty bombs, etc? In 50 years what weapons or accidents may occur from DNA tinkering? We also have toxic waste including dumping by organised crime, often illegal ocean fishing with massive deep drag nets, etc.

    For example currently many scientists try to create a yeast that can eat cellulose directly as cheap fuel/counter to global warming. Not much effort goes into risks of creating a deadly new invasive species by accident.

    Azolla event was massive reduction of CO2 by fern bloom in arctic. Why is their such resistance to idea of using similar bloom of plant life to reduce CO2, including by fertilizing ocean with iron?

    Link to this
  3. 3. manniking50 5:02 am 12/28/2012

    Great…

    Link to this
  4. 4. Carlyle 7:45 am 12/28/2012

    Here is another reason why your ignorant public does not believe the trash journalists publish, especially if a Scientific journal is mentioned. again published around the world without journalistic or climate scientist demur.
    A 2012 investigation finds that dinosaurs released methane through digestion in a similar amount to humanity’s current methane release, which “could have been a key factor” to the very warm climate 150 million years ago.
    It’s a gas: dinosaur flatulence may have warmed Earth
    http://article.wn.com/view/2012/05/07/Its_a_gas_dinosaur_flatulence_may_have_warmed_Earth/

    Link to this
  5. 5. CliffClark 8:16 am 12/28/2012

    To Carlyle, There are well-documented statistical methods for filling in missing data that have been tested and validated. Though I have not (yet) looked up the methods used to fill in the missing data, it seems very likely that the methods used were similarly tested and validated. You can be sure that the scientists developing the methods for that purpose and utilizing them in this study are fully aware and have, in publications, dealt with the issues. Full disclosure. Regarding the enhancement of the reputations of “credible researchers” and the “falling by the wayside” of those that do not deserve credit or funding – this already happens. A lot. It’s called scientific peer review. It’s done by scientists working in the field because the average person doesn’t, to put it in simple terms, have a clue. Either about the field itself or about science in general. That’s why there are no (or very few) climate change deniers working in climate science fields, and why some of the most vociferous of climate skeptics have joined the majority of scientists. And, using their critical thinking skills, EVERY one of those scientists will admit, even if only in their most private thoughts, “I could be wrong.” This is a requirement of critical thinking. We can only wish it were used by climate change deniers and others so critical of any science at all.

    Link to this
  6. 6. rodestar99 8:26 am 12/28/2012

    I find it rather ironic that an article about journalists misrepresenting the data and unfairly giving the scientists a bad rap should appear in this magazine. I needed a good belly laugh.

    Link to this
  7. 7. CPO_Ryback 9:38 am 12/28/2012

    Madam, with respect —

    When you have O-phonies (D) like Van Jones and his ilk, with NO scientific background except membership in the Communist Party, trying to grab-grab-grab MONEY and power — you will never convince anyone with a brain, of anything rational.

    Why not this — isn’t *conservation* part of *conservative*?

    Of course it is. As, with O-phonies (D) like Van Jones, it is grab, grab, grab.

    You are welcome. Have a nice day.

    Link to this
  8. 8. Sundance 1:21 pm 12/28/2012

    The catastrophic propagandists must be weeded out so that sane discussion can be had. Those like me that have scientifically showed that climate model feedbacks were wrong, were attacked by catastrophic propagandists and labeled deniers. Now main stream scientists like Michael Schlesinger are publishing peer reviewed papers showing that climate model sensitivity has been too high. Where is this information being shared with the public?

    Where is Richard Tols analysis of why carbon taxes won’t likely reduce CO2e by any significant level being shared with the public? The answer is that it isn’t because the media has been overtaken by catastophists and alarmists who don’t know or care about science or facts and are only concerned with political agendas.

    Link to this
  9. 9. bucketofsquid 5:49 pm 12/28/2012

    @CPO_Ryback – What? Are you commenting on the blog post here or are you suffering serious delusion? “Grab, grab, grabbing” money is prevalent among both major parties. Almost every member of both house and senate have been shown to be engaging in insider trading and other such financial crimes. I see nothing to tie political liars to climate and environmental researchers beyond the usual fight for funding. Climate change deniers started by saying global warming was a lie. When proven wrong they said it wasn’t caused by humans. When evidence mounted that humans do impact the climate they changed the name to “climate change” so they could twist the argument back to the “it isn’t happening” starting point and then when that didn’t work they started back on the “it isn’t our fault” which has already been disproved.

    @everyone posting before me – I’m still a bit skeptical about global warming and human impact on it because the models are so very complex. Never the less, most deniers don’t cite actual peer reviewed articles and the few who do don’t understand the ones they cite. Sundance cites a couple of researchers but not the specific titles published in peer reviewed publications. Give me a title so I can find it myself.

    Link to this
  10. 10. Carlyle 7:29 pm 12/28/2012

    If you genuinely wish to learn & are prepared to look at informed opinion you need to frequently visit the worlds most popular climate blog. There are multitudes of ‘peer reviewed’ links & opinions from informed & qualified people. By the way, the defenition of Peer Reviewed: Peer review utilizes the independence, and in some cases the anonymity, of the reviewers in order to discourage cronyism (i.e., favoritism shown to relatives and friends) and obtain an unbiased evaluation. Typically, the reviewers are not selected from among the close colleagues, relatives or friends of the creator or performer of the work, and potential reviewers are required to disclose of any conflicts of interest.
    Frequently you find in Climate science that peer review is indeed by close associates & not at arms length. The result is that much junk science is classified as ‘Peer reviewed’. For many of us it has become a joke phrase.

    Link to this
  11. 11. Carlyle 7:33 pm 12/28/2012

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/
    “…the world’s most viewed climate website”

    Link to this
  12. 12. Postman1 9:54 pm 12/28/2012

    Carlyle, Judy Curry’s blog has some interesting, open discussions on the subject, including a good one today:
    http://judithcurry.com/2012/12/28/can-we-avoid-fooling-ourselves/#more-10808

    Watt is, of course, the best overall source. :)

    Link to this
  13. 13. Carlyle 10:49 pm 12/28/2012

    Excellent. Had not visited there in a while.
    Some lessons there for the rabid anti logic proponents too. See: http://joannenova.com.au/Parncutt Death Threat: Uni of Graz “shocked”, Monckton gets it withdrawn with apology. John Cook says nothing.
    I might ad neither does the MSM. Another appalling example if intellectual dishonesty.

    Link to this
  14. 14. Cweed 12:51 am 12/29/2012

    I think most are aware of Petit and other’s ice-core data from Antarctica’s Vostok base from which temperature and CO2 levels have been determined over the past 420,000 years. It would be nice to reproduce the graph here, but this is a text-only column. The graph shows temperature and CO2 levels following each other quite closely in a fairly regular manner, with peaks at about each 130,000 years; we are currently near such a peak right now – perhaps within a few thousand years or so!

    [Al Gore, and many others, have put forward that global temperatures will rise dangerously with further increasing CO2 levels, particularly because of mankind burning carbon fuels.]

    However, what is interesting is that previous peaks had CO2 levels at only about 290ppm – yet the temperatures were about 2C higher than now. Currently CO2 levels are about 390ppm. (The raised levels are probably due to man’s activities).

    Then why aren’t global temperatures now much higher?? About 4C higher!! How does that work?

    Link to this
  15. 15. Carlyle 2:14 am 12/29/2012

    Have a read of this mate. This article supplies the best explanation I have read explaining solar forcing as mentioned in the leaked IPCC report.
    Dana Nuccitelli’s holiday trick for sobering up quick: put a little less rum in your egg nog:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/12/28/dana-nuccitellis-holiday-trick-for-sobering-up-quick-put-a-little-less-rum-in-your-egg-nog/#more-76061

    Link to this
  16. 16. northernguy 3:40 am 12/29/2012

    9. bucketofsquid
    5:49 pm 12/28/2012 writes….

    …Climate change deniers started by saying global warming was a lie. When proven wrong they said it wasn’t caused by humans. When evidence mounted that humans do impact the climate they changed the name to “climate change” so they could twist the argument back to the “it isn’t happening” starting point and then when that didn’t work they started back on the “it isn’t our fault” which has already been disproved…..

    I simply can not let that go by without commenting. It is not people who deny anthropogenic global warming who changed the title of the issue to climate change from global warming. It was the people who were predicting catastrophic effects from the increased co2 in the atmosphere that they believed would result in dramatic increases in temperature.

    When confronted with complaints from the public that they weren’t seeing the predicted increase in temperature where they lived but were experiencing the opposite, people like Al Gore and David Suzuki started talking about climate change rather than warming. This allows any unusual weather to be advanced as an observable effect of elevated co2.

    Thity years ago leading climatologists were saying that the region where I live would have our low lying residential areas flooded by the sea and the local mountains completely snow free in a hundred years. Now that we are a third of the way there they ignore the lack of a rising sea and use the _increased_ snow cover on the local mountains as evidence of climate change that proves the validity of their co2 driven climate theories.

    No one who has paid the slightest attention to the debate can seriously believe that it is a.g.w. deniers that have redirected the debate to climate change. The very article you are commenting on shows what they believe is climate change driven extreme weather caused by a.g.w. The article bemoans the fact that the media when commenting about Sandy are not making the case that the cold weather systems that amplified the storms effects are proof positive of a.g.w. because it is all part of climate change.

    The people who question the emphasis placed on co2 by some scientists are not the ones who had to resort to climate change to make their case to the public.

    Where I live used to be under a thousand feet of ice. Of course the planet is getting warmer. Of course the climate is changing. The issues are whether it is extreme in geological terms. Is it unique in human history? Is co2 a major or even significant factor in climate? Can we do anything about the inexorable warming of the planet? If we can where should we direct our efforts, amelioration or adaptation? Is it even a bad thing for people or should we welcome it?

    The red fox lived in a habitat that is increasingly take up by humans. Their existence was threatened. Now it is becoming clear that their range is expanding but is being achieved at the expense of the gray fox who were more suited to colder climates. Personally, I think the red fox is just a little bit cuter than the gray but that is just my opinion. I just wish that the people who, in effect, side with the gray fox would realize that it is just their opinion which is worth no more than mine. All the peer reviewed studies in the world can not provide a definitive answer to which is better, the lately disappearing gray or the newly thriving red. (except any fool can see the reds are just cute as all get out)

    The point is that before people start telling me we should rearrange modern human society because the gray’s territory is shrinking, I want them to explain why they think the gray is so much better than the red What with the gray being really, really sneaky and all.(and for a fox that is saying something). Or the polar bear vs. the brown bear. Or the narwhal vs. the orca. Or the pine tree vs. a hardwood. (I once talked to a person employed by the government to go around and poison hardwood trees that were popping up in areas that were regarded as pine tree habitat)

    Link to this
  17. 17. Cormagh 12:16 pm 12/29/2012

    Just as the medieval experts’ claims, that climate was controlled by witches, vanished gradually over time, we may expect that the modern claim of trace gas control over climate, which peaked in the 20th century, to dissipate as we learn more about the sun-earth system.

    Link to this
  18. 18. Bora Zivkovic 7:45 pm 12/31/2012

    Guys, you realized that links to Whatsupwiththat and mentions of Al Gore automatically disqualify you as anything but laughing stock? Those are red flags. We are very lenient here, but most serious science blogs set their spam filters to automatically remove comments that contain those two terms, as they are signs of rabid, ideological, anti-scientific trolling that does nothing to add to a serious scientific discussion in the comments.

    Link to this
  19. 19. Quinn the Eskimo 12:12 am 01/1/2013

    “statistical methods for filling in missing data” Well, when you’re makin’ stuff up — you’re makin’ stuff up.

    Of course that’s easy to do with GRANT MONEY at stake.

    Link to this
  20. 20. Shoshin 12:03 pm 01/1/2013

    I see… only websites and views censored by you are considered valid. Have a nice day Komerad!

    Link to this
  21. 21. Postman1 5:22 pm 01/1/2013

    Bora Zivkovic, I agree, any mention of Gore is a joke, as is he. On the other hand, Watt is considered one of the best sources of climate data and SA could do well to attempt to emulate his site. There is a lot more out there than your biased view presents.
    Shoshin, +

    Link to this
  22. 22. JMSci 8:24 pm 01/1/2013

    I worked in science communication in the 1990s for eight years (writing for national newspapers and outreach for a scientific institute), and I’ve seen a disturbing change. Back then, we’d get the odd person who was a non-scientist championing their own pet theory despite having no expertise. I jokingly thought of them as the “Aggressively Ignorant”. Now, they are rampant, no doubt emboldened by the sense of community provided by slanted “news” sites and aggressive nitwit commentators like Bill O’Reilly who don’t understand the first thing about what they are talking about (figured out tides yet, Bill?). I think this is a fine article but most of the comments just make me sigh and shake my head. Btw, I took a year of Climatology in the 1980s and have a degree in Physics and think the evidence for both Global Warming and human causes for it are excellent, sadly.

    Link to this
  23. 23. PermResInitDet 9:11 pm 01/1/2013

    Re: #1 It is unfortunate you do not understand statistics, and worse that you would attempt the pretense that the climate record depends on one set of data out of literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of data points. Please refrain from distorting the fact.

    Re: #2 It is unfortunate you choose to misrepresent the reality of climate change. Your comment is analogous to claiming because a hurricane only didn’t destroy completely every city it affected, then it is a good overall. This is beyond ridiculous. In fact, the effects of climate change are already disrupting every ecosystem on the planet, and a disrupted ecosystem is an unstable ecosystem. Your assumption t one metric, more rainfall, in one small area of the globe makes all the other problems OK is illogical and, frankly, humorous.

    Re: #4 More illogical thinking. If, for example you fart under your with your head under the covers, it will be quite unpleasant. If, however, you fart out in the open o a windy day, so what? If you add a drop of ink to a bowl of ink, no change noted. Drop one drop of ink into a small bowl for water, a very noticeable difference. The dinosaurs were farting into an already hot and wet environment. They surely did not notice. We, however, are belching our GHG’s into a very low-carbon environment, thus having a large impact. School out.

    Re: #6: Ad hom attacks are the domain of those with nothing to add to a discussion.

    Re: #7 Another nice, baseless, ad hom.

    Re: #8: If, as is factually and historically obvious and provable, the climate models have *underestimated* the rate of change, it is thus impossible for the sensitivity to be too low. Also, make sure you are not confusing GHG sensitivity and Earth System Sensitivity. The former is well-bounded (any decent climate site can straighten this out for you, just go to their beginners section) and the latter is obviously significantly low since the changes we are seeing are way ahead of schedule.

    I think you are almost certainly misleading on Schlesinger’s work. Here is a very recent quote on his perspective, “A similar warning is sounded by Michael Schlesinger and colleagues from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Writing in the Journal of Environmental Protection in June 2012, the authors conclude in a paper entitled “A Fair Plan to Safeguard the Earth’s Climate”* that, to avoid the 2 degree C threshold, all countries would need to begin reducing emissions by 2015 and bring those emissions to zero by 2065.” http://blogs.nicholas.duke.edu/thegreengrok/climatecliff-12-2012/

    Dost thou prevaricate?

    By the way, I agree a carbon tax is a stupid idea. Tax and dividend makes much more sense.

    Re: #9

    Re: #10 Models are the last part of the equation in climate science. The measurements and testing are where the information and analysis lies. Models are used to test, not to discover. There are several excellent explanations of the use of models on RealCliamte. I suggest you read them if your eyeballs do not suffice.

    Re: #10 Ah, I find it… disingenuous that only climate science and evolution are treated with this myopic viewpoint. I guess going to the doctor (tons and tons of biology, chemistry, etc., etc – all done the same way as climate science) and flying in a plane (engineering, physics of all sorts, fluid dynamics – all done the same way as climate science) don’t mess with your ideological preconceptions…

    #11. Logical fallacy. Watts has been shown be wrong more times than anyone could possibly count. And he’s paid by Heartland, i.e. fossil fuel companies. No objectivity. Oops.

    Part II to follow.

    Link to this
  24. 24. RWay Ford 9:44 pm 01/1/2013

    As these conversations slowly die,
    crushed by their bloated girth,
    they’ve rarely been about the title:

    Journalism and Climate Model Coverage.

    Journalism “is intended to INFORM society about itself and to make public things that would otherwise be private.[1]”
    This is what “Wikipedia” DOES.

    This is diametrically opposed to an
    Infomercial which “is now sometimes used to refer to any presentation… which presents a significant amount of information in an actual, or perceived, attempt to PROMOTE a point of view.” –”Wikipedia”

    IF Ms. Muthukumaraswamy HAS
    “bought” her own “sales pitches” then,
    there’s already been this
    “recent shift toward greater belief in ANTHROPOGENIC climate change.”

    Not GW climate change,
    so we MIGHT come together
    in some REMEDIAL fashion.
    Such as changing zoning laws,
    building sea walls and
    PREPARING for this “INEVITABLE CALAMITY”!
    After all, even in her triumphant,
    “recent shift toward greater belief”,
    she maintains,
    “perception of its risks remains low among the US public.”

    No, apparently her agenda requires
    this, somehow, be Man’s doing,
    so she can insist
    but MUST, rather,
    “REVERSE this INEVITABLE CALAMITY!”
    A blueprint to further defeat!

    Yet, her tirade has
    nothing whatsoever to do with
    PREPARATION or REVERSAL!

    The Qatar climate talks were a flop.
    She began with a nod to UNsuccess!

    She sites a study, OF STUDIES, which found
    studies significantly undermined
    the reliability of climate models
    –THEN ADMITS: THEY’RE NOT!–
    and, as that rolls off her back
    like rain off a duck, she suggests
    rather than merely focus on
    their imprecise nature,
    we must develop better,
    –more insidious– ways to
    INDOCTRINATE our children,
    than merely flogging her agenda
    in schools’ as curricula!

    “In the aftermath of a political campaign where Republican candidates made a mockery of science, outrightly denying evolution… and human-induced climate change, it is even more important for the media to step up and defend science instead continuing to…” INSIST THERE’S TWO SIDES TO AN ISSUE!

    It’s hard to sympathize with the author’s woeful plaint,
    however, as her own bias isn’t even thinly-veiled!
    I’m a Democrat with Republican friends.
    They are NOT stupid, en masse,
    as blatantly portrayed by this author!

    She even employs the Rush Limbaugh “circus”
    in a desperate hope to SPREAD HER bias!
    Poorly.
    Here, she’s obliged to give credit to
    an agenda opposing hers
    FOR ACTUALLY PROVIDING
    “the most ‘explanation’ of climate models among major news publications and programs!”

    I haven’t laughed along with Rush
    since he left TV, in the 90′s;
    but did learn he interviewed Dr. Roy Spencer
    “…a climatologist, PRINCIPAL Research Scientist at the Univ. of Ala. in Huntsville, and the U.S. Science Team leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) on NASA’s Aqua satellite.[1][2] He has served as Sr. Scientist for Climate Studies at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.[1][2]

    “He is known for his satellite-based temperature monitoring work, for which he was awarded the American Meteorological Society’s Special Award.[2]” –”Wikipedia”

    SPENCER IS THE GO-TO GUY
    TO TRANSLATE SATELLITE DATA FOR NASA, et al.!
    Rush Limbaugh wouldn’t be
    putting words in Dr. Spencer’s mouth!

    “In an interview with… Rush Limbaugh on February 28, 2007, Spencer stated that he doesn’t believe ‘catastrophic manmade global warming’ is occurring. He also criticized climate models, saying ‘The people that have built the climate models that predict global warming believe they have sufficient physics in those models to predict the future. I believe the climate system, the weather as it is today in the real world shows a stability that they do not yet have in those climate models.’[27]”

    NASA’S GO-TO GUY, Ms. Muthukumaraswamy.

    Link to this
  25. 25. PermResInitDet 9:44 pm 01/1/2013

    Re:: #14 You are generalizing about temps over multiple interglacials, and secondly, your assertion that temps were 2C higher is incorrect. Third, there is a lag time involved which is a minimum of 30 years from the time CO2 is added. Siincwe have not stopped adding GHG’s, we cannot have reached the peak yet. Secondly, particulates are dampening warming, or we’d be significantly warmer than now.

    Re: #15 As ever, completely incorrect. Actual science: http://tinyurl.com/b6kynbr

    Re: #16 Factually and historically incorrect. The term was coined in the 1980′s quite without fanfare in a paper on climate. It did not catch on much. Then, during the Bush/Cheney administration, they popularized the term “Climate Change” in hopes of making it seem less threatening. It worked. But the blame rests squarely on the Bush/Cheney administration, and it was completely intentional.

    Simple is as simple does. red fox and grey fox? You are looking at two types of animals in an environment, even n the small area you mention, that has billions of organisms and think this is an intelligent question? You cannot discuss the health and stability of *any* environment in terms of only two animals within it. This shows a complete lack of biological and environmental science knowledge.

    Re: #17 Except there is nothing to support your assertion but the text you posted. Science does not. In order to come to that conclusion, you have to ignore 150 years of science in what is now almost certainly the most-studied area of science in human history. Logic is a necessary tool for communication and policy discussion.

    Re: #19, #20, #21 We are well past the time when lies and innuendo can be allowed to replace scientific study. Watts has removed himself from thdiscussion with a record that is beyond poor. Ex. He swore he would accept climate science as is if the BEST study concluded the temperature record s accurate. It did. Watts then started attacking his former “colleagues” because they dared to let the science speak for itself. Watts is not now and has never been a climate science and does not now and has never engaged in even a single scientific study on climate. He is exposed for the ideologically driven blogger he is.

    Funny, in a sad, discouraging way, that the anti-climate ideologues admitted in 1995 that their own scientists had concluded the same as the scientists they were attempting to discredit, yet here we are nearly 20 years later and the oil money still flows and the denial band plays on. Meanwhile, Nero plays and Rome burns.

    Memo: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/24/science/earth/24deny.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    Link to this
  26. 26. PermResInitDet 10:02 pm 01/1/2013

    “What Fake Skeptics Do” http://climatecrocks.com/2013/01/02/what-fake-skeptics-do/

    Link to this
  27. 27. RWay Ford 10:11 pm 01/1/2013

    Regarding Carlyle, et al. referents to:
    “scientists reconstructed a record of temperatures stretching back to 1958 at Byrd, where about a third of the measurements were missing, sometimes because of power failures in the long Antarctic winters.”

    I gleaned this bit from
    (as I recall; it’s been days)
    one of the authors cited
    in those Smasheroo Headlines!
    (It may well have been
    while fiddling ’round/off of Watt’s Up!)

    “Our most sincere apologies to all those we may have misled by the article on historical temperatures from the Byrd station in western Antarctica.

    Our headlines may have suggested unusual warming in western Antarctica which may have alarmed some readers, when in fact THERE WAS LITTLE ORR NO WARMING. It is not the BBC’s task to investigate obvious data manipulation, as occurred here, but to always accept the results of peer reviewed publications at face value.”

    In the case of
    “CATASTROPHIC!” Anthropene Global Warming-Induced Climactic Change Weather Extremes,
    perhaps that policy has become a mistake!

    If we were talking about Hilly-Billy’s,
    we’d all joke about
    the AGW proponents
    becoming so INBRED!

    Link to this
  28. 28. PermResInitDet 10:26 pm 01/1/2013

    what?! Yet another brand new, independent temperature record that confirms what we already knew? Say it isn’t so! So, that’s now…. every single temp record…. agrees? Even the BEST record done by skeptics and uncommitteds? Yup, that one too. Huh. Imagine that. Science works. Ain’t replication grand?

    http://summitcountyvoice.com/2012/12/29/climate-new-study-of-paleoclimate-record-confirms-warming/

    Link to this
  29. 29. Postman1 3:04 pm 01/2/2013

    PermResInitDet Pantiesinawad? You skipped 12 and 13.

    Link to this
  30. 30. Laird Wilcox 12:35 am 01/3/2013

    Several years ago I watched a program that interviewed students about why they wanted to go into journalism and one of the most common reasons was to “bring change,” to contribute to “social justice” or to “help improve the environment.” These were all reasons that might be given by propagandists in the making and had nothing to do with the actual skills and tradecraft of reportage, interviewing skills, objectivity, fairness, honesty or responsibility. They were all outcome oriented, i.e., if a story achieved a particular objective than it was good journalism. If it serves the cause, it’s the right thing to do. If it doesn’t, it’s not. In a manner of speaking, it’s like wartime journalism that isn’t designed to tell the truth but to support the troops.

    This is what happens what a topic becomes highly ideological, where human worth is dependent upon what people believe, what causes and crusades they take up and how deeply their individual identity is wrapped up in identification with a belief system populated with good guys and bad guys, black-and-white thinking and broad rationalizations for stamping out skeptics and heretics. Science, truth and objectivity necessarily take a back seat. How wonderful, after all, is it to be part of a movement to save the world? It’s pretty hard to top that.

    Link to this
  31. 31. northernguy 1:27 am 01/3/2013

    25. PermResInitDet
    9:44 pm 01/1/2013 writes……
    Simple is as simple does. red fox and grey fox? You are looking at two types of animals in an environment, even n the small area you mention, that has billions of organisms and think this is an intelligent question? You cannot discuss the health and stability of *any* environment in terms of only two animals within it. This shows a complete lack of biological and environmental science knowledge……..

    The fact that you completely misunderstood what I wrote should lead you to consider how much of the other material you have read has passed you by.

    It is not me that singles out particular animals whose threatened existence requires the reorganisation of human culture. I was making the point that for every animal paraded as a horrific example of _climate change_ (the phrase used by every eco activist organisation in the world to deride opponents who try to examine the lack of predicted warming) there is another species moving in to fill the niche.

    Even you in this very thread referred to disrupted ecosystems and how such ecosystems were unstable. We are meant to conclude that an unstable ecosystem is a bad thing. You apparently believe that there is one true desirable ecosystem that we should act to preserve at all costs.

    I do not. I do not believe that one species is necessarily superior to another so I don`t agree that national policy should be based on the perceived threat to the polar bear or the brown bear or the black bear or the tiger or the the seal or any other species simply because society has attributed some kind of cute factor to it.

    I do not believe that there is nor has there ever been a large size stable ecosystem. All attempts to frame particular climates and ecosystems as morally superior to other states of existence shows the “complete lack of biological and environmental science knowledge“ that you seem to see in comments by others.

    It makes no sense to me to deliberately hunt a particular species out of existence as was close to happening to the Polar Bear. But now that the Polar Bear population has rebounded I am indifferent to their possible replacement by their more adaptable cousins the Brown Bear. (should it happen, which is not a given since Polar Bears have been around for 4 million years during which there have been a lot of climate changes). It is you that supports twisting modern civilization into knots so as to preserve the Polar Bear or whatever other species that is emblematic of a particular favored climate.

    The ice sheets covered much of North America at one time. They have been retreating at an ever accelerating rate for thousands of years. The retreat has now reached the polar ice caps. They will keep retreating until they stop and then start expanding again. During that process thousands upon thousands of species were wiped out only to be replaced by others. There is nothing you or I or anyone else could or should do to stop it.

    Link to this
  32. 32. Postman1 1:41 pm 01/3/2013

    31. northernguy Bravo, well said.I understand that a warmer climate is most conducive to the development of new species, so global warming may be better for species diversity. Besides, it is happening (or not) and there is nothing we can do about it.

    Link to this
  33. 33. northernguy 6:59 pm 01/4/2013

    32. Postman1
    1:41 pm 01/3/2013

    You said it better in fewer words than I did.

    Link to this
  34. 34. Cweed 1:25 am 01/5/2013

    Re #18: If, instead of blinding yourself by your waving red flags, you actually read what I wrote, you would maybe have noticed I wasn’t holding up Al Gore as a positive reference.

    Re #25: Firstly, maybe even IF I’m generalising, the current day higher CO2 levels, but with a lower temperature (millennia) before, does suggest there are more significant factors other CO2 levels at play.

    Secondly, the graph does say the temperatures WERE 2C higher. Being a scientist, I do have experience in reading graphs. Do you?

    Thirdly, I don’t know where you pulled the lag time of 30 years from. It doesn’t make sense: greenhouse gases absorb IR instantaneously. Anyway, that means you have already assumed that CO2 levels are causing global warming whereas I’m saying that has not been proven, which is why I’m pointing to the ice-core data.
    (IR data are more definitive, but as has been shown in such blogs as these, such data will not be understood. I thought these ice-core data would be.)

    Link to this

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